Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker speaks with Supreme Court and President Joe Biden at Independence Day event

Mayor Cherelle L. Parker on Thursday presented North Philadelphia native and three-time NCAA women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley with the first-ever One Philly Award.

“The idea is to give this award once a year, on July 4, to a Philadelphian who best exemplifies the qualities we are looking for in a Parker administration: civic-mindedness, pioneering leadership and a focus on serving the community,” Parker said, adding that Staley earned the award because she “embodies the determination and resilience of Philadelphia and the pride of Philadelphia.”

Staley, 54, played basketball at Murrell Dobbins Vocational High School in North Philadelphia and at the University of Virginia. She won four Atlantic 10 Conference titles as head coach at Temple University before leaving for the University of South Carolina, where she won three titles. Staley also won three Olympic gold medals as a player and one as a coach.

” READ MORE: Dawn Staley has won — a lot. Her humanity is a big reason why.

She accepted the award Thursday morning during a Celebration of Freedom ceremony outside Independence Hall, praising Parker’s energy and thanking her for the “state of the city.”

“I haven’t been to Philly in a long time. I’ve been in and out. But I’ve gotten my bearings,” Staley said. “I’ll always be proud of Philly, no matter what, because that’s where I’m from.”

Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton, who like Parker is the first woman to hold the position, also spoke, giving the event the feel of a celebration that included three black women leaders with roots in Philadelphia.

In her speech, Parker said she believed “everything is hanging in the balance right now,” from the right to vote to “a woman’s right to choose.”

She criticized the US Supreme Court’s decision on presidential immunity and sounded the alarm about the need for civic engagement to preserve American democracy.

” READ MORE: Editorial: Supreme Court Reaffirms Trump’s Monarchy Vision for Presidency

“What happened to one of the founding principles of American democracy, which is that no one is above the law, no matter who you are or what position you hold?” Parker asked.

Parker, who wore heels emblazoned with the stars and stripes of the American flag for the occasion, made a political statement at the city-sponsored Independence Day event and asked attendees to join her in fighting what she described as the erosion of rights in America.

“Will each of you who are here and/or watching join me in fighting for our fundamental rights?” Parker said. “The question I just asked you is exactly what our forefathers asked their fellow Americans on July 4, 1776. To me, that is the true spirit of Independence Day.”

After the event, Parker said that despite President Joe Biden’s shaky performance in last week’s debate, she believes he is still a viable Democratic candidate for the fall.

“I’m not nervous about it at all,” she told reporters. “Joe Biden had a bad debate. He had a bad night. … This does not wash away or erase the slate of significant investments that he has made to the city of Philadelphia as our president of the United States.”

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